ATEM packs a punch at amateur boxing’s biggest event

Three years ago Claire Wilkie spotted a gap in the sports market. Not only were many smaller sports struggling to produce professional quality coverage, either through a lack of budget or production skills, but they were also often prohibited by the physical dimensions of the venues staging the competitions.

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“Many sports want to grow their fanbase, and they know that one of the best ways of achieving that is by using the internet and television to broaden access to these sports that are otherwise inaccessible,” explains Claire. “However, if the production values are poor or the coverage lacks great looking match analysis, viewers will quickly switch off. Combine this with cramped and unglamorous venues and sporting associations often find themselves hamstrung.”

Together with technical manager, Ben Harper, Claire’s Wilkie TV takes the key strengths of traditional OB set ups, but downscales this into a highly portable unit. The ‘Wilkie Box’ is a 6RU case, built around Blackmagic Design’s ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K production switchers, combined with bespoke onscreen graphics software to deliver high quality video production, VT playback, multi track recording and streaming for sports including netball, basketball and boxing.

Each flyaway kit is capable of managing up to eight camera sources, and depending on the complexity and distance signals are required to travel, each box is equipped to accept both SDI and optical fiber.

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Together with technical manager, Ben Harper, Claire’s Wilkie TV takes the key strengths of traditional OB set ups, but downscales this into a highly portable unit. The ‘Wilkie Box’ is a 6RU case, built around Blackmagic Design’s ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K production switchers, combined with bespoke onscreen graphics software to deliver high quality video production, VT playback, multi track recording and streaming for sports including netball, basketball and boxing.

Each flyaway kit is capable of managing up to eight camera sources, and depending on the complexity and distance signals are required to travel, each box is equipped to accept both SDI and optical fiber.

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“The Wilkie Box may be small in footprint, but it was designed to be extremely powerful, allowing a single operator to achieve much of what a full scale OB van can,” explains Ben. “Using the ATEM’s SDK we have been able to develop our own software solution to seamlessly integrate everything from social media scraping and Caspar CG effects to tally systems and audio inputs, as well as the lower third and scoring graphics. The end result is a really slick, professional looking live production.”

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Ringside at Haringey Box Cup
Wilkie TV recently gave London Live viewers a ringside seat at Britain’s biggest amateur boxing competition, the Haringey Box Cup, staged at Alexandra Palace. 290 bouts across four rings were streamed live simultaneously, with more than 90 hours of programming running across four live channels.

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“Each ring was treated as a self contained OB production, with a dedicated, multiskilled operator responsible for directing, mixing, keeping time and controlling onscreen graphics with one of four Wilkie Boxes supplied for the event,” explains Claire. “As well as mixing feeds from three robotic camera positions around each ring, operators also imported meta-data via XML from the officials table and used this to generate lower-third graphics in real time. The lower thirds incorporated the names of the competitors and their individual performance stats as they fought.”

The program mix from each PPU was then transmitted to London Live’s OB unit, ready for the production gallery to produce the channel’s coverage.

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As well as recording each bout in ProRes, action from the four rings was streamed directly to London Live’s YouTube channel using hardware based h.264 encoders. This directly available content was shared across social media by fans and contestants alike, driving tens of thousands of views within hours of each day’s events finishing.

“By designing the production in a way that allowed a single operator to handle it not only reduced costs, but also gave the London Live production team four professionally produced live streams, which they could choose to broadcast at any given time during the competition,” continues Ben. “The simultaneous streaming gave London Live a solid and smart submix solution, which allowed them to produce the second screen that sports viewers have now come to expect.”

“Each of the four units were really put through their paces during an intensive live OB, however the ATEM’s size and range of professional features meant that we were able to a deliver extremely slick looking live production.”

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